Deep-pocketed Sacred Heart University announced on Monday it has purchased the nearby 66-acre Fairfied property of General Electric, now headquartered in Boston, for $31.5 million “But with Sacred Heart’s acquisition, the property will no longer be subject to the same property tax payments, due to the university’s nonprofit status–a fact that concerns Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau.” Welcome to the world of tax-exempt properties in Connecticut’s largest city. An interesting note in this report from CT Post reporter Keila Torres Ocasio is the claim by SHU that it has “invested more than $100 million in Bridgeport.” Really?
SHU’s relationship with Bridgeport is sweet and sour–or is it sour and sweet? Its primary campus is located in Fairfield but across the street on Park Avenue it has ancillary facilities including dormitories located in Bridgeport. It has caused a town and gown divide with SHU benefiting from Bridgeport land but city neighbors not experiencing the benefits, especially with partying SHU students causing havoc in the North End neighborhood placing an added burden on public safety. SHU recently purchased eight acres of Bridgeport-owned golf course property for $4 million to satisfy Fairfield zoning regulations to expand its campus footprint.
“We are experiencing remarkable growth, and the need for state of the art facilities,” SHU President John J. Petillo said. “And frankly, the one thing they don’t make more of is land. The proximity and quality of the facilities is something we were unable to resist.”
… With the purchase of the GE property, the university gains 550,000 square feet of space and 800 parking spaces.
Kinney said he expects the acquisition to attract more students to the university, which now has roughly 4,800 undergraduates.
“This is transformative for this institution,” he said. “We’re acquiring the headquarters of one of the most iconic companies in the world. There is an image that all of this will bring.”
In the past, Kinney has estimated that the university has invested more than $100 million in Bridgeport and a similar amount in Fairfield to expand its campus.
Full story here.
It’s too bad the townspeople of Fairfield have to foot the loss of GE.
You wonder if the town rep for Fairfield will ever ask Malloy why did he do this? Why couldn’t you make Connecticut more attractive to business rather than a least attractive place to do business?
There is never going to be a company that pays the taxes GE did.
It’s like Bridgeport, no one had a plan to replace the factories as they were leaving. This put that loss on the backs of the property owners.
It’s been that way ever since.
So much for having any forethought for the future of the city.
Oh the poor nonprofits and the poor educational facilities. This money pit on upper Park aAe was able to get $31,000,000 together to buy the GE site. Why should these thieves run a tax-free business? The Hartford politicians should take note. BTW I don’t care how much SHU spent in Bridgeport, they did not pay any taxes.
The Town of Fairfield could have negotiated something with GE to turn it into an enterprise zone for small business thus retaining the tax basis, but you snooze you lose to the ever-expanding and encroaching SHU. I would have hoped they used some of the space for dorms to keep them out of Bridgeport neighborhoods, but then again why would they do that when Bridgeport is cheaper and they don’t have to pay for security? Does Fairfield U cause as many issues?
I thought the Kleban brothers of Fairfield were on track to buy the GE property and therefore keep it on the private property tax lists. I guess the Kleban negotiations fell through.
IT DOES MY HEART GOOD TO SEE FAIRFIELD TAKE IT IN THE NECK.
The real, serious scholars who attend SHU could be completely served on a 5-acre campus with three or four classroom buildings, one small dorm, and an acre of parking.
And Andy is 150% correct: Any institution that can raise $31 million on short notice for property it will probably never use should be taxed at normal, local rates, and should have surcharges imposed on them for extraordinary stresses on municipal services related to the institutional presence and activities.
Allowing destructive, parasitic institutions such as SHU to get a free ride on the back of a poor, distressed city is criminally immoral.
SHU has become a bloated, missionless cash cow that exists for the financial benefit of the administration and the financial and political interests of the BOD.